A pre-workout meal plays an important role in maintaining energy levels and nourishing the muscles. Here’s a guide to what to eat and when to eat before your workouts
An active lifestyle is key to a healthy life. Whatever walk of life we may come from, to stay healthy we need to choose an active lifestyle, and to live that active lifestyle, we may choose various forms of activities as per our preferences or convenience. Those who prefer indoors may choose to work out in a gym, yoga, join some aerobic or Zumba studio, and many more such options, while those who prefer the outdoors can choose any sporting activity such as football, basketball or running. It entirely depends upon your choice, interest, or any other reason and it may work for you as well, but one thing that remains a common concern for any of these activities is nutrition.
We all know the critical role nutrition plays, be that about recovery, growth, or just maintaining the energy levels. Knowing well how important it is, anyone who embraces an active lifestyle does become conscious of what they eat and generally ensure that the diet supplements the workout regime and its requirements. However, often we do not go beyond the obvious and tend to ignore the basics which can go a long way to define how effective our nutrition can be. Nutrition primarily is categorised in three parts: Pre-Workout, During, and Post-Workout. Of these three, while during and post-workout gets duly addressed as the body tends to give us significant signs, pre-workout nutrition is the one that often gets ignored.
Pre-workout nutrition plays an important role in not only helping us maintain the energy level as we engage in a workout, it also helps in keeping the nutrition level of our muscles in check thus helping with adequate growth and desired response. Two important factors about the pre-workout nutrition are, what to consume, and when to consume. Keeping certain baseline facts as constant, both the factors have subjective response varying for each individual, hence it is important that we consciously try out the best combination that may work for us.
What To Eat?
Depending upon your workout you may choose your pre-workout meal and keep it high on fats, carbohydrates, or protein. If the purpose is to gain muscles then a protein diet is a must, if you are looking to do a short workout with high intensity, we need some bursts of energy, then nutrition with a higher glycemic index is critical and for this we need a snack loaded with simple carbs, but if the purpose is for endurance sports, we often need a combination of fat and complex carbs which may help in slow energy release as we workout. Some of the common and effective pre-workout snacks are as follows:
Banana: The most convenient and potent fruit, full of carbohydrates and potassium, easily digestible, and a handy meal by itself. A banana can be termed as a magic fruit for every sportsperson.
Oats: It’s a good source of fibre and slow-release carbs which help endurance athletes. It also contains Vitamin B, which helps in converting carbs into energy.
Trail Mix: Nuts contain a high amount of fat and protein both. While they are good for endurance sports, they also help in muscle gain. If you have weight loss on your mind, it’s better to avoid them.
Whole grain bread with peanut butter: A combination of good carbs, fat, and protein. It gives you the right energy rush without spiking the sugar levels.
Fruit and Greek yogurt: Another great combination of carbs and protein. While carbs in the fruit break down quickly and give you the energy for your workout, protein builds up your stores and prevent muscle damage.
When To Eat?
This is just as critical as what to eat. While we all have a different digestive response, the idea here would be to not carry undigested food in your gut. So if your digestive system works at a snail pace, give it about 90 mins before you start your workout. One also needs to keep in mind meal portions and the intensity of the workout as well. Ideally, one needs to practice a time gap of 30-90 mins. Anything less than 30 mins can certainly lead to acid reflux or other forms of indigestion.
One of the key factors here is that most of us do early morning workouts which makes it difficult to maintain that time gap and land up not having anything at all. The key here would be to take a small portion of easily digestible food which can give us just the right amount of rush without causing any kind of discomfort.